Feature: International aid, donations pour in for Australian bushfire crisis

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-08 11:19:04|Editor: ZD
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SYDNEY, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The international community has rallied behind Australia during the ongoing bushfire crisis, which in many parts of the country has been the worst on record.

Since September 2019, 25 people have been killed, close to 2,000 homes destroyed, and hundreds of millions of wild animals perished in the blazes.

The scale of the devastation has shocked the onlookers from around the globe, prompting celebrities, politicians and ordinary people to inundate Australia with messages of support and assistance.

This week additional defence and firefighting personnel arrived from North America and nearby New Zealand to take up some of the strain on local emergency services.

Australia has previously sent firefighters to help with disasters in the United States and Canada, and representatives from those countries said they were happy to return the favour.

Other countries including neighbouring Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji and Singapore offered practical assistance in the form of firefighters, aircraft, soldiers and financial aid, while a string of world leaders from France to the United Arab Emirates sent heartfelt words of support.

"Australia is the closest friend of PNG and is always the first in PNG in our times of adversities and we offer our hearts and our hands to you in this time of fire-induced tragedies," PNG Prime Minister James Marape posted online.

Celebrities and sporting heroes have also been quick to do what they can for the cause.

As a show of support for those affected by the fires, a special "Rally for Relief" event was announced for the lead up to the Australian Open with many of the world's top players committing to charity matches.

Tens of millions of dollars has already been raised by donations from ordinary people around the world.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service chief Shane Fitzsimmons described the overwhelming influx of donations as "extremely generous," reflecting "the best we've got in humanity."

He said that all efforts would be made to ensure that the donations go to the right place.

"We need to make sure that we get something tangible, and we get some real benefit out of this, and we don't want to lose sight of the fact that that extraordinary generosity will make a massive difference," he said.

On Tuesday evening, English rock'n'roll legend, Elton John ended his concert in Sydney with a pledge of 1 million dollars, prompting a standing ovation.

"To see what is happening here breaks my heart, and so we have to come together and we have to fight," John said.

"This is my bit towards it, and I love Australia so much. To those who have lost their homes, God bless, I hope that your life will be repaired very, very soon."

Hollywood's night of nights, the Golden Globes, also saw the bushfires recognised with a message from actor Russell Crowe, who instead of being at the awards was in Australia defending his home and property from fires.

In an acceptance message read by Jennifer Aniston, Crowe described the tragedy as unmistakably "climate based."

"We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way we all have a future," the speech read.